Ivanje – Midsummer Night’s Dream Croatian Way

It’s St John’s Eve – perfect time to learn the language of forest animals. It sounds pretty easy: all you have to do is go deep into the woods, protect yourself with a circle of salt and keep your sanity.

Before you rush, think twice! It gets harder then you might expect. All the apparitions and horrific creatures will try to freeze your blood with terror. It will be overwhelming. But don’t worry, they can’t get past the circle… and you mustn’t either. Stay inside, don’t trust the bewitched temptations, and keep calm. That’s about it – if you make it through the night, on the morning of St John’s day you’ll be able to understand all the animals and they will reveal you the secrets of the worlds beyond.

Northwest Croatia calls June 24th Ivanje. Croatia is a Catholic land, so we had to put on a saint’s-celebration-cover on so many pagan superstitions regarding this day. Ivanje is a direct offspring of ancient midsummer festivities. From bonfires and water charms to beliefs about vilas, this is one of the most fairytaleish dates of Croatian wheel of the year. In case you have never met a vila, it’s a nymph that looks like the most an enchanting maiden dressed in white, with long golden hair and legs of a goat. Let me just warn you that, even if you resist all of the threats and temptations coming at your cramped self around that circle of salt, it’ll take just seconds for vilas to seduce you with their magical appearance. So, maybe it’s not such a good idea to try and learn the animal language tonight after all. There were those who tried. But they never came back to share with the rest of us the secrets of the worlds beyond.